Juliano Mer-Khamis was a talented actor and a humanitarian whose work supported peace in Palestine through theatre and the arts. His tragic death represents a great loss to cultural creativity and to the voices for reason and compassion within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps more tragic still is the hatred and the bile emanating from the blogosphere written by thoughtless Zionists rushing to shout, “I told you so.”
The actor participated in the film Miral, which I have not yet seen, unfortunately, but which hopefully will become an even greater success and still more influential through the martyrdom of Mer-Khamis. The author of the book on which Miral is based and of the screenplay for the film is Rula Jebreal. She gave a particularly poignant interview last night on CNN, despite the efforts of Fionnuala Sweeney to cut her off. Ms Jebreal said she feels that Mer-Khamis is still alive. I find this a touching statement that brings to memory the song about Joe Hill. As it happens, Joe Hill has long been a symbol for my own work. In fact I owe to him my pen name, ‘Hillstrom.’ Joe Hill and the poet Lorca, who also met a tragic death during the Spanish civil war, provided the inspiration behind my poetic drama, The Story of Our People.
Perhaps the lovers of Peace within Palestine and aspiring young actors will find solace and inspiration in Mer-Khamis’ life’s work. And perhaps a new inspirational song, I dreamed I saw Juliano Mer-Khamis, alive as you and me, may well from the lips of legions of budding Palestinian poets.